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You are here: Home The Goods Broadway Fan, College Counselor and Scarsdale Mom Writes and Performs “Covid-19-Quarantine” to the Music of “Alexander Hamilton”
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Broadway Fan, College Counselor and Scarsdale Mom Writes and Performs “Covid-19-Quarantine” to the Music of “Alexander Hamilton”

Gelles(Click on the image above to watch)Beth Gelles, a Broadway fanatic and natural entertainer, got a burst of inspiration during the long days of the COVID-19 quarantine and collaborated with her daughter on the production of a video about the crisis to the tune of Alexander Hamilton from the famed Broadway show. With her kids home from college and her students stressed, the Fox Meadow mom saw the need for comic relief turned out a great performance in just hours. Watch her tour de force here and read more about Gelles below.

How did you get the idea to do the video - what inspired you to write the lyrics?

I have always loved to rewrite lyrics of popular songs and Broadway shows, especially to create songs for my friends’ birthdays. Over the past few weeks, with the Corona virus all over the news and on everyone’s minds, I wanted to do something to acknowledge the stress in our world as well as to entertain and distract people. I love making people laugh and wanted to give something to my friends, family, and current students. I run a college counseling business in Scarsdale and our students were stressed long before Corona disrupted all our lives. My daughters and I are huge Hamilton fans and I kept thinking about what words would fit into the seven syllables A-Lex-An-Der Ha-mil-ton and Co-vid Nine-teen Quar-an-tine matched beautifully. I was on the treadmill when inspiration hit!

I sat down at my computer and worked up some ideas and verses. I came back to it every few hours to add and revise -- the song probably took me between 2-3 hours to compose.

When I finished it, I sang it for my daughter Lindsay (accompanied by the karaoke version of Alexander Hamilton). Lindsay is a freshman at WashU and, like all students, she’s stuck at home. She is incredibly creative and musical and is majoring in Psychology with a double minor in dance (ballet) and drama. Instantly, she declared, “Mom! I will record you doing this and you should post it!”

Do you have a background in writing verse? Acting and singing?

Yes. As mentioned, I enjoy rewriting songs for friends and family members. I have been performing since early childhood. I love to sing, I play the piano, and I can still tap dance. I’ve performed in musicals in high school in NJ, at Harvard, and even at Kellogg Business School.

I am a ridiculously religious Broadway musical fanatic, and I have made my entire family endure listening to show tunes. Fortunately, they put up with me. My middle child Lindsay loves to see every show too. We’ve seen over a hundred musicals together in the past 18 years, and she collects every single Playbill. My son Zack is a freshman at Harvard. He doesn’t love musicals but he can carry a tune, play a little piano and guitar, and he has a great ear for languages. My youngest daughter Carly is a freshman at SHS. She is an incredible dancer and she can also sing. She loves musicals too, particularly when there is extensive choreography involved. My husband Jeff can carry a tune. He will come to Broadway shows with me on my birthday or Valentine’s Day but it’s definitely not his first-choice activity!

Who filmed you and edited the video? How long did it take to do? Did you have to do many takes of each scene?

Lindsay! She is incredibly creative and artistic. She is also a devoted Hamilton fan. We actually have TWO Hamilton costumes because she entered the Hamilton lottery day after day for almost 2 years and then won two free tickets to Hamilton on Halloween 2018. I bought the costumes on Amazon. We have tons of costumes in a closet in our basement and dressing up and performing skits and fun musical reviews has been part of my kids’ childhoods.

Believe it or not, the video didn’t take long. Lindsay recorded me singing the song accompanied by the soundtrack on Garage Band. I messed up once and did it again. I told her it was good enough. Lindsay had most of the ideas for each scene. It took us an entire afternoon to film everything and none of the scenes required more than two takes. The most challenging part for me was to memorize a lot of lyrics at once. Lindsay filmed each of these clips around our house and then put the whole thing together on i-Movie. It took her about 2 hours in total.

You say it has gone viral - how many views to date? Have you gotten inquiries from people around the country?

With Facebook and YouTube combined, I have had over 17,000 views (as of March 29th).
Yes, it is around the country! I have friends in California and Florida who have contacted me. They have received the video from people that I don’t even know.
The video was also sent (not by me) to Channel 12 News in Westchester and aired on a continuous loop on March 27th.

Also a friend of a friend in San Francisco sent it to someone at ABC News and it will air next week!

What-- if any-- is their attitude about Scarsdale?

Honestly, people have told me that they feel the SAME exact way no matter the suburb! They feel stuck at home and they want to remain positive for their kids who were sent home from college. They are struggling with distance learning, and they are figuring out how to manage and cope with the entire family in quarantine. Wine certainly helps!

Has anyone given you grief for making light of the pandemic?

Not one single person. It has been wonderful how so many people have been appreciative. Many people have “friended” me on Facebook just to thank me for giving them a smile and a good laugh.

Tell us about yourself and your life in Scarsdale. What do you do?

I co-founded a college counseling business in 2012: Acceptance Ahead.

My partner Nancy Stuzin (who lives in Edgemont) and I work with students primarily in the NY area but we also have students around the country and a handful of international students (Greece, the UK, Saudi Arabia). Nancy and I work with 30-35 students per grade, and we also do pro bono college counseling every year for YPIE (Yonkers Partners in Education). Both of us are on the Advisory Board there.

I recently chaired Westchester Reform Temple’s cantorial search committee for a new assistant cantor and that was rewarding.
My family moved here in July 2011 from the San Francisco Bay Area because my husband Jeff was transferred. He works in finance. We have been extremely happy living in Scarsdale. The community was instantly welcoming!

How has this crisis affected your college counseling business? Are you still working during this break?

We are still working during this break to support our students but we have shifted to online in order to give them continual guidance during this unprecedented time. Some of our seniors are still figuring out where to enroll but they cannot attend “Accepted Student” days. We are having conversations with them via Zoom, discussing our own experiences when we visited various campuses, and putting them in touch with some of our current students at those schools so they can obtain candid information. It’s extremely challenging and anxiety-provoking to choose a school under normal circumstances, but sight unseen really adds to the stress. We are encouraging kids to do virtual tours where available, read comments and reviews from students, and attend virtual info sessions. For our juniors, we are also communicating via Zoom, email, phone, and text. Some of our advice is being altered about how to build a college list since many of them will not have the opportunity to visit schools this spring. Nancy and I have visited over 110 colleges across the country and we try to provide unbiased observations and suggest good matches for our students. We are staying up to date and constantly providing information to our juniors about standardized test changes and colleges that are going test optional for this coming application season. We are also offering ongoing suggestions for ways to keep busy from home and how to pursue individual interests in creative and meaningful ways. Since this is a stressful time for all of us, we emphasize how everyone is in the same boat and that admissions officers are going to be extremely forgiving of the spring of 2020 due to Coronavirus. Nancy and I belong to several higher education organizations and we have received many emails from highly selective university admissions officers about this.

We heard anecdotally that more American kids are being admitted to colleges/universities this year because students from abroad are having difficulties getting visas and traveling here - is that true?

We have not heard recent statistics about international students compared to American students for this season. However, we have seen a huge increase in students (Americans and international?) offered a place on waitlists. We think this is because colleges are uncertain about what their ultimate yield will look like and they want to maintain a viable waitlist should they have availability.

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